Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Chocolate and ice-cream coma

Last night my lovely friend Donna - of the new Scream-licious ice cream brand - cosied up to a local chocolate maker  - for a tasting.

There was the darkest chocolate, studded with fruit and chilli and dripping with alcohol. It was like a pom pom wave from the God of Good Food. Along with collecting more calories at one sitting than anyone has a right to, I also spent the rest of the night in a sugar coma. Divine...


Monday, 29 July 2013

The bone collector

This month's issue of North & South Magazine runs my story on Bruce Mahalski, an artist who does interesting things with bones. Click here to read. 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

A sunny Sunday

I'm not a girl afraid to use and abuse the word 'lovely' and today provided me with ample opportunity to do so.

My old friend Sandi from my BBC London days was in town so we met for brunch. We haven't seen each other for about five years, so there was much to catch up on and we talked until our tongues almost fell out of our heads.

There was also blinding sunshine and, later, a walk with His Furiness along the waterfront. This is fast turning into the Year of Falling, as I tripped over a mossy surface and cut my left knee. It's my third fall in a month - is the universe trying to tell me something?

Yesterday we had our dog/housesitters over for coffee and the best beloved lemon cake; we haven't seen them for a while so again, lots of news to catch up on. All things considered, a bloody lovely weekend.  

Friday, 26 July 2013

Singapore here we come!

After a couple of other media trips falling over recently (I'm looking at you GFC), have scored a junket to Singapore in September to cover the F1 race and a couple of other things.

Has been four years since I was last in the island state on another media trip, so a rematch is long overdue. Google tells me it's 29 degrees in Singapore today; here in Welly it's 14 (which isn't bad for the middle of winter) but it's not stretching the grey matter too much to guess my preference. So that's twice we're away in Sept - once to visit the parentals in Oz for a few days and then this. Now I just have to figure out how to make time run faster...

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Behind the Candelabra

Spoke too soon about the aftershocks packing their suitcase: a couple of good jolts woke me up last night.

But this evening I get to forget about earthquakes and annoying people and work niggles and having to give everything I own to the tax man at the gala opening of the NZ International Film Festival. Thank you media ticket, you couldn't have come at a better time. I look forward to sitting in the dark, letting this fun tale wash over me...

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Things I learnt today

1) When you're meeting with a new client and a truck going past makes the room shake, all three of you will dive under the table. You will then laugh the nervous laugh of people who've experienced too much in the past few days.

2) I am basically now just working to pay the tax man. A visit from my lovely accountant Jane brought the bad news: all the late nights and ridiculous juggling of day jobs with freelance work has brought little else but a big fat tax bill. Booyah New Zealand, it's obviously my shout.

3) I write a mean eulogy. My Aunty Maureen from Brisbane died last Saturday and Mum has been asked to deliver the eulogy. She requested my help in drafting it and although Maureen and I weren't close, and I haven't seen her for years, the words ended up arranging themselves in a pleasant fashion.  

4) I cannot be two places at once; epic diary fail resulted in a flurry of re-jigged schedules and emails. That's what happens when you're busy being an obedient wee handmaiden of the tax department.

No time for visuals today, so these cuties from the ever reliable Tumblr will have to suffice.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Relief - and Simon Pegg

Mother Earth is finally playing nice; the constant, frightening aftershocks are off bothering someplace else. For now, at least.

In all the excitement/stress of the weekend, I forgot to post my interview with Simon Pegg which ran in the Herald on Sunday (click here to read).

A lovely chap and an even funnier actor. Go see The World's End if you haven't already.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Frayed nerves

When life hands you a series of motherf*&%$ big earthquakes (there aren't enough swear words to describe how I feel about events of the last two days) what do you do?

You work from home, that's what. Today the Wellington City Council advised workers to stay away from the CBD and so we are holed up in Mt Vic with a copious supply of green tea and chocolate.

It's a surreal feeling tapping away at my laptop and feeling the ground buck and sway every few minutes. We've lost count of the number of aftershocks, although the big ones still have the power to upset. We were woken at 3.14 this morning by a large quake and every hour since, there have been a few good 'uns.

It's all anyone can speak of and folk seem be operating in this weird fug of uncertainty and confusion, wondering if the past few days have been an entree for the 'Big One'. Is this the new normal? Is this how we have to live until the forces beneath the earth's crust return to slumber? Lets hope not...

Crossing everything on my person that we'll be able to return to work and normality tomorrow...

Had to smile at this in today's DomPost - at least someone has a sense of humour:

(Pic credit: Stuff and ZM)

Sunday, 21 July 2013

These shaky isles

Holy f&*$%#!

Tonight I had possibly the scariest experience of my life when we had a 6.5 magnitude earthquake. Mother nature has been stomping her feet all weekend, starting with a terrific 5.7 jolt on Friday morning which, thankfully, I missed as I was walking to an interview. The earth moved again Friday afternoon but my friend Jo and I were walking our dogs in the Town Belt at the time so again, fortuitously, missed it.

We were woken by a 5.8 this morning (cue barking dog, diving under the bed, general chaos) and there was no avoiding tonight's quake when I was drying my hair. We both had the presence of mind to Drop, Cover and Hold but the deep grumbling seemed to go on for an eternity. Unlike the rest of the city - power-lines down, chunks of masonry littering the streets, windows blown out, roads closed - we fortunately experienced no damage but spent a good half hour wandering around straightening pictures and ensuring the house, and friends, were in one piece.

Tonight we are hunkering down and trying to ride out the charmingly named 'swarm' of aftershocks (come on people, can't we come up with a less sinister collective noun?); apparently there have been 30 in the last hour. The Animator has nominated himself Minister of Earthquake Watch - his current obsession is refreshing the GeoNet page every few minutes and reporting on the size and depth of the last one. An intervention may need to be staged.

All thoughts of the work we have do tonight are gone; we are nervously drinking wine and trying to find something amusing to watch to take our minds off it. Before this weekend, we had been loosely plotting our escape from Welly in the next three years - Waiheke Island was top of the list. After this weekend, we may well accelerate those plans.

Visuals are the aftermath of tonight's 6.5 shake.


(Pic credits: Stuff and NZ Herald)

Saturday, 20 July 2013

The bald truth

The NZ Herald's Canvas Mag runs my feature on women with alopecia.

HUGE love to these three amazingly brave and lovely women for agreeing to be interviewed and photographed (click here to read). One of the trio had never spoken of her condition or been photographed, so I am humbled and grateful for her willingness to speak to me. Thanks Dr Jo!

(Pic credit: NZ Herald) 


Friday, 19 July 2013

Prosecco for lunch

Have been putting out so many fires this week I should be given my own shiny truck.

But today was lovely - the sun shone, I spent two hours interviewing a delightful chap for a profile for Canvas Magazine and had lunch with a travel editor at this beautiful restaurant that I reviewed last month for the Forbes Travel Site (click here to read). It's true, I fell into the arms of sparkling grapes with indecent haste but after the week I've had, it was nothing less than I'd earned.

This afternoon the lovely Jo and her rescue greyhound Chilli joined us on a muddy walk in the town belt and now I have hours of tape to transcribe from this morning's interview. This weekend I will be racing towards two deadlines, so sadly there is to be no R&R in Shazzyland (insert sigh here).

Today's visual is of my favourite wee boy who is better for the stress levels than any amount of bubbles (although fortunately I live in a world where both are available). Check out His Stylishness, rocking the moody black and white look...


Thursday, 18 July 2013

Today was

Bed, walk, work, run, dinner, work, bed.

After a frantically busy day wrangling the alphabet, I've had to come home and do more.

In the next couple of days, there will be interviews with former Air NZ CE Rob Fyfe and the Chief Film Censor, so there's a mountain of research to be digested.

There was also a fascinating conversation with the Privacy Commissioners' Office about sharing people's email addresses without their consent, and another with a tourism provider about some of the quirkiest NZ travel experiences for a magazine feature.

Is it sad that the highlight of my day was squeezing in a lightening fast baking session to produce the best beloved lemon cake? Really just an excuse to get my money's worth from the stupidly expensive Kitchen Aid but also a salve to a frenzied schedule.


Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Over it

Another snakes and ladders kind of week - several moves up (four new commissions from various magazines), another media trip and a couple of event invites - only to slide back down again.

Current annoyances include arsehole neighbours with the world's most enthusiastic subwoofer, the weather and too much work/not enough time.

I am badly in need of a hot date with the sofa, a movie and a vat of red wine.

(Pic credit: Google Images)

Monday, 15 July 2013

High times at the Haight

Yesterday's Herald on Sunday ran my piece on San Francisco's Haight Ashbury district (click here to read).


Sunday, 14 July 2013

The one in which I interview Simon Pegg

Despite the rubbish weather, we dusted off the sequins and stupidly high heels and tottered down to the Embassy for the international premiere of The World's End.

There were speeches from Peter Jackson, Martin Freeman, Nick Frost and Simon Pegg and we laughed like drains throughout the film.

An early start this morning - unnecessarily, as it turns out, because the interview schedule was running 90 minutes late. So about 20 journos - TV, radio, print and online - sat and chatted and drank coffee. And then I had my one-on-one with Simon Pegg who was everything I'd imagined: funny, self-deprecating, thoroughly pleasant and, best of all, a dog lover. We swapped Schnauzer stories and he said I should have brought Bristol with me to the interview. Bless.

Now I have to banish the time sucking demons and file this piece by first thing tomorrow. Goodbye Sunday night.

(Pic Credit:

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Red Carpet Time

Just went along to get my media accreditation for tomorrow's interview, and saw them putting out the red carpet at the Embassy.

In a few hours we will be walking down it - and checking out this movie...

Friday, 12 July 2013

A Good Friday

Not meteorologically speaking, because the Weather Gods have decided to hurl every bit of rain and cold they have at us.

Instead, after a week of fielding calls and emails, interviewing prospective tenants and checking references, we have found a fabulous new tenant for our rental property. Best of all, she's a neat freak, which will be a nice change.

And AA Directions Magazine ran my piece on running during winter (click here to read).


Thursday, 11 July 2013

Paying homage to Bristol

the place that is, not the dog (although he is pretty bluddy wonderful).

Here's a piece I wrote about our time in the South-West of England which the Dominion Post ran yesterday - click here to read. In the print version, there were loads of pics, all credited to the Animator, including the fabbo one below.


Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Wednesday woes

It's a soggy Wednesday and, to compound things, several annoying people/events decided it would be a good time to put on their gladrags and go to town.

The current tenants in our rental property are leaving, so am spending hours fielding calls, emails and texts and showing people through the place. And cleaning up after folk who are old enough and ugly enough to know better. Almost had a heart attack when a woman I was showing through today opened the oven - words fail me as to the state of it. I am fast reaching the high-tide mark of my anger, I can tell you.

Two more parties to show through tonight and others wanting to see it tomorrow. Am hoping the references of a lovely woman I met today work out because I am over it.

On the upside, I was commissioned two stories for a new magazine today so am looking forward to working for them.

Today's pics are of cute woofers because everyone needs something beautiful to rest their eyes upon (especially me, after the horrors I've encountered today).

  (Pic Credit: Tumblr) 

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Get up and Go Magazine

This Aussie publication runs one of my Seoul pieces (click here to read).

Sunday, 7 July 2013


Living as we do in Freelance/Contractor Land, our weekends don't follow the same shape as others.

Mostly, they're spent in a foggy veil of work.

But yesterday, we downed tools and allowed ourselves a day off. There was lunch, a movie and a chance to finally use up the free media tickets I received to the Warhol: Immortal exhibition at Te Papa.

As the Animator knows, I'm not much given over to galleries: I once whizzed around London's National Portrait Galley in about 15 minutes and a friend and I spent more time scoffing cakes at the Guggenheim in Bilbao than eye-balling the artwork. Perhaps it's because I'm a words rather than a visual person, but galleries leave me slightly bored, something that causes the Animator no end of frustration. If it were over to him, he would spend all day and still only cover one room.

Yesterday, though, wasn't a waste of make-up; this exhibition, which is on loan from the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburg, was a fascinating look at one of the 20th Century's most defining artists. Some of it was plain odd - like the silver balloon room - but his line drawings, colourful canvases and twin obsessions of celebrity and death made for a well curated exhibition.

Most unusual takeaway fact: despite his hedonistic, openly gay lifestyle, Warhol was a practising Catholic. Which, I guess, could explain a lot.

If you're in the vicinity of the world's southernmost capital before the end of August, you could do worse than spend an hour getting under Warhol's skin.


Saturday, 6 July 2013

Bare Faced Chic

The NZ Herald's Canvas Mag runs my 'Week without Makeup' piece (click here to read).

It's in aid of a great cause, SAFE's Go Bare for Animals Day on July 19.  Dare you to do it...

 (Pic Credit: NZ Herald)

Friday, 5 July 2013

Woop Woop!

Have just been commissioned to interview brilliant British actor/director Simon Pegg, star of Run Fatboy Run, Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, Paul, How to Lose Friends & Alienate People, and a couple of Mission Impossibles and Star Treks. And, of course, he was the voice of Thompson in Tintin that the Animator worked on. Best of all, he apparently loves dogs.

Pegg is in town to promote this film. And yes, I get to go to the premiere the night before. Doing the happy dance...


Thursday, 4 July 2013

Toast Martinborough

It shouldn't have worked - a wine and food festival in a tiny, awkwardly located Wairarapa town that, let's be honest, wasn't exactly a Mecca of sophistication 20 years ago.  

But work it did and now Toast Martinborough is New Zealand's premier wine and food festival. The last time I covered it was in 2009 for the Herald on Sunday (click here to read) and lots has changed since then. Tonight, I get to sup some gorgeous Martinborough wines and nibble little bits of deliciousness at the launch of the 2013 event.

So much for Dry July...


(Pic Credit: Google Images)

Monday, 1 July 2013

Dance Pony Dance

This is, I imagine, what happens when advertisers tango with Class As.

But it is the cutest, funniest advert I've seen in a long while; make sure you have the sound up when you watch it. Chubby moonwalking ponies and Fleetwood Mac - what a delicious mashup.


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